A sense of connection.

A few months ago, I was part of a workshop on spiritual health. We suggested at the outset, As a working definition, let’s talk about our spirit as that part of us that desires connection to something greater than ourselves.

We’re not sure exactly what it is, this pull, this awareness, this sense of connection. But we are aware of it. Sometimes it feels like connection to someone. Or to some others. Or to nature or creation.

IMG_1057.JPGAnd it is often connected to what we know as religious structures and experiences. But it is not the same as religion.

In talking to lots of people about this sense of connection, which is what chaplains do, we start to see that: Different people experience that awareness differently.

  • Some of us can feel it as a pull when we are in nature.
  • Others can feel it as a sense of making a difference when we are fighting for justice.
  • Many in healthcare can feel it as a sense of doing something that helps people.
  • There are some people who are artists, who are creatives, who are aware of a deep connection with something when they are locked in their creative process.
  • Or even, when they are working deep in their cabinet making.
  • Or in moments of complete stillness, the three in the morning feeling.

A writer named Gary Thomas talks about spiritual temperaments, much like we could talk about personalities or body types. And he identifies nine. But rather than explaining each of them, I’d like you to think through the following sentence completions in order.

I’m more aware of something outside me when…

  • I can experience wind, rain, sun, trees, and sky (Naturalist)
  • My senses are engaged – incense, orchestra, architecture, art (Sensate)
  • Ritual and structure guide my heart and thoughts (Traditionalist)
  • I am alone, surrounded by calm simplicity (Ascetic)
  • I’m engaged in a battle for something that matters (Activists)
  • I’m pouring myself into helping others (Caregivers)
  • I’m lost in celebration and mystery (Enthusiast)
  • I’m deeply in love with Love (Contemplative)
  • I’m engaged with understanding ideas that matter (Intellectual)

If you are like most people, one or two of those made you nod. And several weren’t interesting at all.

I’ll let you reflect on that list and give you an applied example tomorrow.


Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas laid the framework for thinking about temperaments. And What’s Your God Language by Myra Perrine includes exercises to explore each of the nine temperaments.

2 thoughts on “A sense of connection.

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